A research article published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy showed that Pilates-based therapeutic exercise significantly decreased pain and disability in patients with chronic low back pain (J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2006; 36:472-484).
No surgery! No medications! And something that makes you feel good while you are doing it. But it isn’t quick. And it will cost a modest amount of money. In the research article, subjects with low back pain participated in three hours of supervised Pilates per week for a month. But the positive results lasted over a 12-month follow-up period. At LNK Pilates, we recommend clients with back pain take Pilates twice a week, starting with private instruction to learn proper technique.
Why does Pilates work? Your spine is an amazing biomechanical structure that works smoothly and efficiently with correct postural alignment and motor control. Activities of daily living in the modern world sabotage our spine creating poor posture, muscle imbalance and inability to properly stabilize the spine during movement. It’s no wonder that back pain is the second most common cause for visiting the doctor!
Called local stabilizers, these muscles don’t move the spine-at least not much-but play a critical role in stabilizing the boney structures of the spine during movement. If these muscles are not strong, the spine will be subject to excessive wear & tear when the global mobilizing muscles are activated. In Pilates, a key component of each exercise is teaching proper stabilization of the Core (spine, hip & shoulder girdle) while the body is moving.
For instance, the hamstrings in the back of the leg balance the quadriceps muscle in the front of the leg. If the hamstrings are shortened, they exert an abnormal pull on the pelvis and spine causing the back to “flatten” and lose some of its’ natural protection. Pilates lengthens the hamstrings allowing the back to maintain its’ natural curve.
Try sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Look at your low back in the mirror. If your back is flat or flexed, your hamstrings may be shortened. If you start to feel discomfort in the front of your legs near your hip joints shortly after you assume the position, your abdominal muscles may be weak causing your hip flexors to work overly hard to keep you sitting up straight. Just two examples of the havoc our modern day life can wreak upon our body!
If the muscles do not fire in the proper order when you move, there will be wear and tear on the spine. Weakness and dysfunction of the gluteal muscles can cause the low back to work harder than it should and exert an abnormal force on the lumbar spine.
This can be tested. Lie on your stomach and extend one leg into the air. If the movement is initiated by activating the muscles in the low back rather than the glutes, faulty movement patterns exist and may contribute to low back pain. In Pilates, we teach you how to move by cueing which muscles should be used at which time during a specific exercise.
But like everything worth having, it takes time. On average, we recommend twice weekly sessions of 50 minutes for at least 10 weeks to feel a difference. In cases where disability is more severe, private instruction is recommended. As always, see your physician for diagnosis and medical treatment. But making Pilates part of your overall restorative health program will improve the way you look and feel.
I love the classes and instructors at SDK Pilates! Stephanie, the owner, has been a tremendous help to me with understanding challenges I face with a bad hip. Her expertise and medical background have helped me select exercises that are appropriate for me and I have learned there are still plenty of things that I can do to strengthen my body! At other places, I sometimes overdid my workouts (and hurt myself) – SDK’s instructors have helped me increase my flexibility and strengthen my body in a s…
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience. They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”
SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
Stephanie’s class is well-paced, challenging yet welcoming for first timers and those who are more experienced. She offers seamless coaching throughout and her enthusiasm and energy is inspirational.
“SDK Pilates’ yoga instructors are beyond wonderful and very reliable. Our community and hospital staff truly enjoy the classes and we are extremely thankful for their partnership with us.”
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience.They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.